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Volkswagen Breathes New Life Into MEB Platform as Everything Else Takes the Backburner

With a substantial investment in new battery cells, power electronics, and inverter technology, Volkswagen will keep the aging MEB electric platform alive beyond its planned retirement. The move marks a reversal of the plans initiated by former CEO Herbert Diess.
Volkswagen breathes new life into the MEB platform 6 photos
Volkswagen announces plans for 435-mile range MEB vehiclesVolkswagen announces plans for 435-mile range MEB vehiclesVolkswagen announces plans for 435-mile range MEB vehiclesThe refreshed Volkswagen ID.3 will look like this, but the German automaker calls that a new generationThe refreshed Volkswagen ID.3 will look like this, but the German automaker calls that a new generation
With Herbert Diess at the helm, Volkswagen enjoyed a head start in the electrification war that traditional carmakers waged against Tesla. The MEB platform (Modularer E-Antrieb Baukasten in German, translating into Modular E-Drive Platform) was meant to underpin a wide range of electric vehicles, starting with the ID.3 compact and ID.4 crossover and going all the way to the ID. Buzz minivan.

As the first project of the EV era, the MEB platform was never intended for the long run but a mere stop-gap until Volkswagen would advance its Scalable Systems Platform (SSP). Diess was a known Elon Musk admirer and knew that overtaking Tesla would take much more than half-baked solutions. Unfortunately, the SSP was such an ambitious undertaking that even Diess couldn’t see it through, and it cost him dearly.

Oliver Blume, who took over as Volkswagen Group CEO after Diess was fired, is determined to reverse many of the former CEO’s decisions. Last month, Blume said everything is on review, with major projects across Volkswagen’s many brands frozen or axed. First, the new Wolfsburg factory was scrapped, and then the Artemis autonomous vehicle plans fell through. Now, it appears Blume intends to extend the life of the MEB platform beyond its planned replacement.

Blume wants to invest €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) into the platform to develop new batteries and improved electronics and drive modules. Initially, the MEB platform was supposed to be replaced after 2025 with the SSP, but it would endure until 2030 and beyond under new plans. The MEB-EVO, as it would be called, will feature battery cell technology envisaged for the SSP platform to leverage economy of scale and drive costs down.

According to Autocar, the changes to the MEB-EVO platform will increase charging power from the current 135 kW to more than 175 kW. This is still underwhelming, considering the Korean rivals Hyundai and Kia already offer 350-kW power capability. Of course, this is what you get with a 400-volt architecture. The 800-volt SSP architecture will not come to the rescue until at least 2028, which turns Volkswagen from a trendsetter into a laggard in the car industry as far as electrification is concerned.

To be sure, these plans are not even Blume’s. In spring, former CEO Diess outlined plans to boost MEB platform attractiveness with bigger batteries and faster charging rates. The first product to benefit from these changes would’ve been the Aero B, now expected to launch as the ID.7, with the ID.4 coming next.

 
 
 
 
 

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